The ability of the lung to regenerate, potentially triggered by exercise, makes sense, said Dr. Norman Edelman, a professor of medicine at Stony Brook University and chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "When the lung develops in utero [when the fetus is developing], the pulling force of the diaphragm is an important stimulation for the lung to grow," he said. "But, of course, the practical application of the research is a long way off."
Butler said the next step is to do a study involving more people over time. "If we can discover the underlying bio-molecular mechanisms, they would suggest potential therapeutic options," he explained.
For more on lung disease, visit the American Lung Association.
SOURCES: James P. Butler, associate professor, medicine, department of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Norman H. Edelman, M.D., professor, medicine, Stony Brook University, chief medical officer, American Lung Association; July 19, 2012, The New England Journal of Medicine
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